The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, had its roll-out amidst the debacle that I’ve come to call the Tea-fault. (I don’t know who first coined that term, but it fits, and I’m going to keep using it.) The Healthcare web-based exchanges launched during the Tea-fault of 2013 and even supporters admit the websites were underwhelming in functionality. But, that being said, the Obamacare benefits are still being hailed by Democrats and Progressives (even as the right continues to scream foul). I don’t disagree that there are some real improvements such as preexisting conditions no longer being a reason for denial of coverage or exclusion from policy coverage and I think mandating certain preventative care be paid for 100% without any deductible is an equally great thing. There are other things about Obamacare I think are valuable and necessary, but now I’d like to address the donkey in the room. I feel pressure from my progressive friends and acquaintances to abstain from any criticism of Obamacare for any or all of the following reasons:
- Any dissension between progressives will be seen as blood in the water for the lunatic fringe of the GOP, making it harder to move any closer toward single payer or universal coverage
- It’s better than what we had (over 47 million uninsured before Obamacare)
- It’s hoped to be an incremental stop on the way to single payer or universal care and criticism could derail that
The question I keep asking myself is if any of these reasons constitute a sufficient reason to withhold criticism of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and don’t really know the answer to that. But I do feel compelled to speak the truth and so, at the risk of putting blood for the GOP sharks in the water, I’m going to speak candidly about some key flaws, namely:
- This is primarily a GOP envisioned plan and it is not substantially different from the Heritage Foundation proposal from 1989 or the GOP proposals floated during the Clinton administration, nor is it appreciably different from Romneycare
- This was a law that was heavily lobbied for by the insurance and pharmaceutical companies and for good reason, it brings them a windfall of new policy sales
- There are swaths of people who will still remain uninsured after everything is said and done (estimated by some sources to be as high as 23 million)
- It is not single payer nor is it universal coverage, which is what we really need
- Obamacare does next to nothing to stem increasing costs of actual medical services
- Obamacare does nothing to make medically necessary bankruptcies from occurring (most bankruptcies that arise due to medical costs are filed by people who have medical insurance)
It seems to me that once the Supreme Court ruled Obamacare constitutional within some narrowly defined constraints, all honest debate on the left ceased and that’s unfortunate. We need our best and brightest to be looking toward the next step to work toward making sure that healthcare becomes a basic human right in America.
Dr. Carol Paris is a psychiatrist who had been protesting against the Affordable Care Act outside the Supreme Court in early 2012.? When asked about her views in early 2012 she said, ?The insanity here is that we have a system of financing health care in this country that is all about profit for corporate America and not about the health care of the people?? See Russell Mokhiber’s article that appeared in an online publication entitled?Common Dreams. I can’t argue with her reasoning, nor can I argue with her decision to move her practice from the US to New Zealand to enjoy a saner approach to healthcare. But I’m just really hoping there will remain enough of us in the US who are willing to continue the fight for truly universal care.
So now what I find myself increasingly becoming uncomfortable with is the ?get into lock step and hold the party line” sort of mentality, and the reason I am discomfited is this is the sort of lock-step rhetoric conservatives have done for years while we progressives make fun of the pretzel logic they employ to stay within their talking points. I’d like to think progressives are grown up enough to engage in honest debate about issues without being worried about being called DINOs or PINOs (Democrats-or Progressives- In Name Only). I’d rather drink pinot than be called a PINO so I wanted to raise the question, ?Where do we go from here?? Or, an even more important consideration, because we have a deeply divided electorate, we need to be able to debate the issues honestly (first with ourselves, then with others) because being able to convince at least some from the other side of the aisle is mandatory or single payer will not happen.